History of the Event

2023

35th Year Celebration!

Jesse Smith invites JD Crowe as co-host. Crowe attended the convention back in 1988 adding to our history pre-Billy Eason era. Together they brought Richmond the convention’s 35th Anniversary! Ryan Ashley returns to headline. Arguably the most famous tattoo artist in the world at the time (due to her prominence on TV), Richmond was the only convention she would attend that year.

Crowe's participation infused the event with some OG heavy-hitters: Inksmith & Rodgers, Jack Rudy, Paul Booth, Corey Miller, 'Good Time Charlie' Cartwright, Gill 'The Drill' Montie, Juan Puente, Robert Hernandez, Dana Brunson & Shawn Barber. It was the perfect combination of old school and today's fast evolving tattoo scene: Cleen Rock One, Kevin Laroe, Josh Payne, Steve Tefft, Sara Fabel, Dave Koenig and Sarah Miller.

The Live Arts for Charity portion of the event partners up with the Richmond SPCA, raising $10,000 to benefit them!

Official convention Artwork by Dave Koenig. JD Crowe redesigned the 1989 artwork to commemorate
 35 years in Richmond.
2019

Ryan Ashley headlines

at the time she is known most for  being the first woman to win Ink Master. By now Jesse Smith & Kenny Brown had caught their stride putting on the convention. They invite Cervena Fox, international burlesque and fire show performer, to perform.

The first Best of VA competitions are held. Nominations took place online, online votes happened for People's Choice and a selected panel of judges decided on Judges' Choice:
Judges’ Choice: Andy Chambers
People's Choice: Jamie Martin

The 2nd Richmond Tattoo & Arts Academy takes place with Nick Baxter, Sarah Miller, Ryan Ashley, Frank LaNatra, Esao Andrews, OG Abel, Sterling Hundley & Jon Wayshak as presenters.

Convention Artwork by Dave Koenig.
2017

Tatu Baby headlines

and is our first woman headliner. She was in high demand by the public having been on InkMaster, voted as favorite by the public, and had cameo appearances on InkMaster Angels & Black Ink Crew.

The 2nd Miss Pinup Competition is held.

Airsex Competition makes its' debut and is a Laugh-out-loud hit with the attending public.

Notable attendees: Kelly Dotty, JD Crowe, Phil Garcia, Scott Sterling, Duffy Fortner, James Vaughn, Miguel del Cuadro, Gunnar, Josh Bowers, Mike Skiver, Bryan Sanchez, Andy Chambers, Dave Koenig, Melody Mitchell, Lalo Yunda, Steve Compton, Sketchy Lawyer, Rodney Raines, Mike Devries, Jon Mesa, Craig Foster, Chris Blinston and many more!

Convention Artwork by Dave Koenig.
2015

End of an Era.

Nate Drew & CJ Starkey's last year. Kenny Brown and the Jack Brown’s Tattoo Revival crew helped organize the show.

Notable Attendees: Oliver Peck, Jack Rudy, Tony Olivas, Shanghai Kate, Jess Yen, Chris Longo,  Jesse Smith, Mark Longenecker,  Rodney Raines, Mike Skiver and many more!  

Convention Artwork by Kenny Brown.
2013

Big Slick

Some notable attendees: Jack Rudy, Tony Olivas, Crazy Philadelphia Eddie, Bob Tyrrell, Scott Sterling, Shanghai Kate Hildebrant, Doc Dog, Big Gus, Marshall Bennett, Chris Longo, Jess Yen, James Vaughn & Big Jaz

Convention Artwork signed by KEETSST
2011

A New Era & the Doc Dog Roast

After the passing of Billy 'The Bull' Eason, Nate Drew & CJ Starkey take over the The Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival and move it to the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

Crazy 
Philadelphia Eddie receives the first ever BILLY EASON LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

RIP TOM PAINTER 
1953 - 2011
With 35 years of tattooing experience, Tom was the
second of 3 generations tattooers. The third being his son, Jason McCarty, a staple at the convention.

The Doc Dog Roast had an impresive roster of tattoo icons: Lyle Tuttle, Crazy Philadelphia Eddie, Jack Rudy, Tony Olivas, Frank Mills, Oliver Peck, Bob Tyrrell, Terry ‘Tramp’ Welker & Mike Rubendall

Convention Artwork by Brian Bruno.
2009

17th Annual

and 7th Annual Richmond Summer Show

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.
2007

15th Annual

and 5th Annual Richmond Summer Show

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.
2005

13th Annual

and 3rd Annual Richmond Summer Show

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.
2003

11th Annual

Due to overwhelming interest from tattoo artists wanting to work the annual fall show, Billy decided to host the 1st Annual Richmond Summer Show.

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

Got photos/memorabilia of this year you'd like to share? Please email us at marketing@ richmondtattooconvention.com - Thank you!
2001

9th Annual

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1999

7th Annual

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1997

5th Annual

Convention Artwork by Chris O’Donnell & Timothy Hoyer

Got photos/memorabilia of this year you'd like to share? Please email us at marketing@ richmondtattooconvention.com - Thank you!
1995

3rd Annual

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1993

Billy Eason & Tony Olivas

of B.I.R.D. PRODUCTION throw the First Richmond Tattoo & Arts Festival.  

The Convention was held at the Koger Center from 1993-2010.

1989

Crazy Ace & Lady Host

David 'Crazy Ace' Daniels & L. Lady Daniels keep it going after Grandpa Groovy stepss down. Their headquarters was their shop, Creative Tattoo Studio, originally named 'Richmond Tattoo Studio, and later re-named 'Way Cool Tattoos'. Crazy Ace went on to later open many 'Way Cool Tattoos' in the US and Canada. 

Crazy Ace contracted Richmond's own GWAR to perform.

The Convention was held at the Holiday Inn Koger Center.

Convention Artwork by Mike "Rollo" Malone & Jack Rudy. T-shirts printed and distributed by Offical Tattoo Brand owned by JD Crowe.

1987

and before...

We know Grandpa Groovy and Tattoo Life held a few conventions before the Richmond show. Some held in Northern Virginia, Mclean area.

We also know that the Koger Center was a meeting place for a tattoo club. They shared their knowledge, techniques and innovations of the time. The tattoo artist-only meetings occured before the traditional structure of conventions as we know them today. 
2022

After a 2-year hiatus,

due to the Covid Pandemic when the world shut down, we were back! Melody Mitchell, from Black Ink Crew NYC, becomes the first black woman headliner. But Jesse and his convention team received a couple of hard blows that knocked the wind out of their sails: 

RIP TONY OLIVAS 1963 - 2022
6 weeks before the convention ne of the fathers of the convention, a tattoo titan & a constant at our after-party Cee-low table.

RIP KENNY BROWN 1973 - 2022
5 weeks before our good friend & half of the convention, Kenny leaves us. He was the voice of the festival with the energy to keep the party going all weekend. KB forever.

The first ever Karaoke Cage Match created by Jesse Smith & Chris Trew was a hit with the crowds. And Richmond's own, Chris Adler from Lamb of God is the Celebrity Judge.

Notable attendees: Cleen Rock One, Stefano Alcantara, Derek Noble, Tom Beasley, Megan Jean Morris, Cervena Fox, Amy Mymouse, Andy Chambers, Bryan Sanchez, Mike Skiver, Carlos Rojas, Frank Ready, Jaded Moon, James Vaughn, Josh Payne, Joshua Bowers, Kiljun, Lalo Yunda, Melody Mitchell, Parry Chotipradit, Made Rich, and more! 

Convention Artwork by Dave Koenig.
2018

Megan Massacre headlines

In the spirit of the original meetings of the tattoo minds that took place at the Koger Center in the 70s-80s, Jesse Smith created the Richmond Tattoo & Arts Academy. He invited some of the top names currently killing it at the time: Phil Garcia, Dave Koenig, Jose Perez, Gia Rose. Alongside super talented multimedia artists: Gary Villareal & Eliza Ivanova. 

The Street Art Festival evolves into Live Art for Charity. Invited mural artists finish their weekend-long paintings which are then put up for auction. The proceeds of which got donated to the charity: Art on Wheels, organization that helps the elderly, disabled and chronically ill members of the community without access by providing a creative learning and therapeutic environment in which to
help heal and empower them. 
 
Notable attendees: Tony Olivas & Bob Tyrrell return. Cleen Rock One, Derek Noble, Big Island Mike, Mike Skiver, Sara Fabel, Anthony Michaels, James Vaughn, Halo, Big Jaz, Duffy Fortner, Melody Mitchell, Lalo Yunda, Amy Mymouse, Joshua Bowers, Josh Payne, St. Marq, Richard Smith, Nate Drew and many more!

Convention Artwork by Dave Koenig.
2016

Passing of the torch.

NateDrew & CJ Starkey pass the torch on to Jesse Smith & Kenny Brown. They were grateful for the honor and excitedly accepted 5 months before the convention was set. It took a couple months get organized and were able to pull it off in an incredible 3 months shiirt time with hard work! The two referred to themselves as the Master Blaster team and they decided to bring the event back to its’ original venue: the infamous DoubleTree Hotel-Koger Center.

The event expands outside to include a Street Art Festival component to includes more forms of arts.

The first ever Mrs PinUp RVA competition crowns Bonnie De-Lovely.

Noteable Attendees: Nate Drew, Dave Koenig, Cleen Rock One, Joe Capobianco, Phil Garcia, Megan Jean Morris, James Vaughn, Rodney Raines, Anthony Michaels, Sarah Miller, Mike Skiver, St. Marq, Sketchy Lawyer, Duffy Fortner, Miguel Del Cuadro, Hamilton Glass, Matt Lively and many more!

Convention Artwork by Jesse Smith & Kenny Brown.
2014

Nevermore

Notable attendees: Jack Rudy, Scott Sterling, Doc Dog, Tony Olivas, Mike Skiver, Shahn Anderson, James Vaughn, Jesse Mule, Rodney Raines and so many more!  

Convention Artwork by Rodney Raines.
2012

Year of the Dragon

Notable attendees: Doc Dog, Oliver Peck, Mike Skiver, James Vaughn, Rodney Raines, Jon Mesa, Shahn Anderson, Jesse Smith, Jason Stephan,  and so many more!

Convention Artwork by Brian Bruno

Got photos/memorabilia of this year you'd like to share? Please email us at marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com - Thank you!
2010

Billy Eason's Last Show

and 8th Annual Richmond Summer Show

RIP BILLY 'THE BULL' EASON
1939 - 2010
Billy Eason, co-owner of the Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival passes away on November 23rd, 2010, just 2 days after the 18th Annual Show.

RIP DAVID 'CRAZY ACE' DANIELS
1951 - 2010
That same year we lost another convention father. Crazy Ace took over the convention once Granpa Groovy stepped down. He helped the Richmond tattoo scene coalesce by bringing in the likes of Ed Hardy, Lyle Tuttle, Gill Montie to do guest spots.  He was a catalyst for mainstreaming tattoos in Richmond, which helped grow with a new breed of really good, young apprentices who were all VCU art students.

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.
2008

16th Annual

and 6th Annual Richmond Summer Show

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

Got photos/memorabilia of this year you'd like to share? Please email us at marketing@ richmondtattooconvention.com - Thank you!
2006

14th Annual

and 4th Annual Richmond Summer Show

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.
2004

12th Annual

and 2nd Annual Richmond Summer Show

In this year, Billy also held a tattoo convention in Orange County, CA called the Rock of Ages.

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.
2002

10th Annual

Got photos/memorabilia of this year you'd like to share? Please email us at marketing@ richmondtattooconvention.com - Thank you!
2000

8th Annual

Got photos/memorabilia of this year you'd like to share? Please email us at marketing@ richmondtattooconvention.com - Thank you!
1998

6th Annual

Convention Artwork by Jeff Eden

Industry titans such as Lyle Tuttle, Jack Rudy, Brian Everett, Paul Booth, Crazy Eddie Funk and more were in attendance.
1996

6th Annual

Convention Artwork by Nate Drew & Timothy Hoyer
1994

6th Annual

Convention Artwork by Timothy Hoyer.
Got History?

We want to hear from you!

This timeline is meant to be a living document of this event's rich history in Richmond, Virginia. It has been made possible with the help of many of you. If you have any additional info, stories, photos, memorabilia to add, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact us at eventcoordinator@richmondtattooconvention.com 
1988

Grandpa Groovy, Sandi & Tattoo Life Magazine

Grandpa Groovy was one of the men responsible for removing stigmas about tattoos by helping to bring about tattoo regulations to Richmond. In 1988, he founded the International Tattoo Artists Guild that set forth a code of ethics for the professional tattoo artists. 

Held at the Holiday Inn Koger Center. Attended by the legendary Paul Rogers, Randy Adams, Gil Montie, Sailor Moses and Lyle Tuttle. This was the last year that Paul Rodgers tattooed.

Convention Poster Artwork by Patty Kelley. T-shirts Artwork by Jack Rudy & JD Crowe.

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(All volunteers will receive a Free Richmond Tattoo & Arts Convention T-Shirt for helping out)
(For every hour that you Volunteer at the Richmond Tattoo & Arts Convention, Loose Screw Tattoo will give you free tattoo time. On Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Morning and Monday Morning you will receive $15 of FREE TATTOO TIME for every hour worked and on Friday Evening, Saturday and Sunday you will receive $10 of FREE TATTOO TIME per every hour worked)

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